Taiwo Olanrewaju reports her visit to the country home of the first traditional Nigerian dramatist, late Chief Hubert Adedeji Ogunde, at Ososa in Ogun State.
THE country home of late Chief Hubert Ogunde was devoid of the hustle and bustle it was known for while the artiste was alive when the Nigerian Tribune visited recently.
The atmosphere was serene. A horse was grazing on the field in front of the house which overlooks the only public secondary school in the town, Ososa Comprehensive High School. An obituary of the late artiste’s sister adorned the building’s entrance while two young boys, under the supervision of Chief Ogunde’s step-son, who refused to disclose his name to Nigerian Tribune, cleaned the compound in preparation for the burial ceremony.
The step-son, who took the Nigerian Tribune round the compound, disclosed that the building would soon be turned into a museum where the public could come and see some of the paraphernalia that Chief Ogunde used in his life time.
The paraphernalia included the personal effects of the late artiste as situated in his house and his tools of trade that is the equipment used in acting his numerous films, which included apparels, vehicles, a specially built aeroplane and other acting equipment.
Moving into the compound, the first building one comes in contact with by the right is that of the late artiste which has a back entrance that leads into a courtyard which contains about six other buildings that housed Chief Ogunde’s wives, children, staff and theatre office, including a generator house which houses a giant generating set.
Aside the statue of Chief Ogunde and his mother’s, Madam Eunice Owotusan Ogunde (1888 – 1986), the other statue in the compound is that of Madam Adesewa Ogunde (1928-1970), which is in front of the building to the left, behind Chief Ogunde’s building.
Madam Adesewa Ogunde, also known as Mama Eko (Lagos Mama), after acting the lead role of a popular play of that name in the 60s, was one of Ogunde’s numerous wives and her name was Clementina Oguntimirin. She sang and acted so well that she became very popular and had many fans. She, however, died in September 1970 at the age of 42 years in a motor accident close to Ikorodu Bridge on her way to Ilesa, Osun State for a stage performance.
Madam Adesewa had five children for the late artiste and the two senior girls, Tokunbo and Tope, are now leading members of the Ogunde Troupe. Ogunde wrote the play, Ayanmo (Destiny) in her memory while her death was mourned throughout Nigeria with very extensive press and mass media coverage of her death and funeral.
Speaking on the life and times of Chief Ogunde, his step-son, who acted in some of the late artiste’s films, disclosed that his step-father was first a teacher who joined the police force and then became a musician with a studio in Lagos before becoming an actor.
“His father’s family is from Ile-Apena, Odo Alere while his mother’s family is from Ijoku, both in Ososa. Ijoku is where he built his personal house while his film village is at Odo Alere.
“He was a Christian and attended St. John’s Anglican Church, Ososa-Ijebu. The master tapes of his films are in London and he used a special camera, 35MM for his recordings in his life time. He wrote most of his stories in his building in the night. He founded the Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners (ANTP) and was its first president. He also started the National troupe and it was through him that Ososa came into limelight.
“He was a man whose lifestyle was simple. He ate food like ikokore, gari, robo and aadun which are the delicacies of the people of Ososa. He did not drink alcohol, but had less sweetened soft drinks like Krest once in a while.”
The step-son also volunteered that Laja, one of Ogunde’s sons, has taken after his father in that he is a prolific writer and a great actor too. Some of the films produced by Laja, the step-son disclosed, included Omi Alale, Edan, Eye Abami and Erin Olosa while he also recollected that the current monarch of Ososa, Oba (Dr) Adetoye Alatishe, Gbegande of Ososa, was Ogunde troupe’s physician. “He looked after Papa and all members of the troupe,” he added.
Some of the works of Ogunde included Aye, Jayesinmi, Ayanmo, Aropin n’ teniyan, Mister Johnson, Yoruba Ronu amongst several others.